I don’t intend to do National Novel Writing Month this year, but the idea of ‘brain-splats’ as writers like myself call them – both the verb to throw ideas down out of nowhere and also mistakes that happen when we write to fast; words that come when we’re not looking – has always interested me with its peculiarity. I’m not saying I have conjured a suitable Psychological reason behind the mistakes writers do, for I reckon it’s due to lack of concentration. This is most common in NaNo, of course, since we writers want to continue onwards, rather than standing back from the screen/notebook at the end of the page/paragraph to observe and double-check what we have written at speed.
However, there’s a particular reason for the title of this post. Recently, I have been writing a sci-fi short story straight onto its Word Document – something which I very rarely do (simply because I do not have as much access to a computer as I would like), choosing instead to write long-hand first and then type up and modify in a twisted version of a second draft. Now, whilst writing with direction but without prior prose, I often jump ahead of myself, when I have ideas for dialogue paragraphs or pages ahead in the story. I can’t help it; the ideas just arrive!
It was in one of these tangents where the brain-splat of mine happened, where I was distracted by all my ideas in a supernova collision. I had moved a day’s plot on from the continuous chapter I had been writing, and I had two blocks of dialogue from that day on the go. It was a bad idea right from the start.
I had decided, having worked on the first paragraph for a bit and left it at one line of character A and one of B, A to speak, to move onto the second paragraph, dialogue of a similar nature to the first. Once that was done, I went back to the first block, ready to continue with character A’s line – when I noticed that she already had something to say. I stared at the line I had written: “Everything!” Words that did not fit in my mind-plan. It’s not the sort of reply one would normally say to “Do you want to go home?”, indeed!
So, where had that come from? I can only suppose that I was writing two pieces at once in my head and , due to distraction and fatigue, the words melded.
Going back to the beginning of my post, I think there are many reasons why NaNo-ers pour their brains in a mess onto the page, the most prominent of which is that they have no idea where they’re going with the plot. On the other hand, I’m most certainly a combination of a pantser and plotter (don’t know what those terms are? Try this link and this one for info)! Both contrasting views can lead to brain-splat and, as shown, writer’s block, through spilling the contents in a nonsense way to smashing ideas together as I have done today. It does happen, when plot gets in the way of writing freely, just as vice versa occurs.
Do you find that dialogue further along the tale springs into place when you are writing?
Have you ever had the experience of utterly random distraction that has led to some utterly random stuff?